1. Malisky

    Malisky Fuzz Overdriver Contributor

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    Overcoming or adapting?

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Malisky, Jul 9, 2018.

    So, I was having this very interesting conversation with someone about trauma. Assuming that "trauma" is something that affects the individual that carries it in their everyday life, from a severe type of trauma like ptsd to a less severe one like abandonment issues, do you believe that a (willing) person truly ever heals after a traumatic event has occurred and if so, what's your definition of "healing"?

    The person I was conversing with was a psychologist. At some point I asked her, "How can someone be sure to know that he overcame his trauma? Does it truly ever leave?" and she answered, "Well, in my pov, people don't overcome. They adapt."
    With that said, I understood what she meant but then again, how does a person know that he indeed worked efficiently on his issues, made day-to-day beneficial steps to better his life, instead of brushing things off and being in denial of the severity of his trauma, just because he believes that he is on the right path, which at some point might manifest again by blowing up in his face?

    Well, with this and that, the conversation ended up with "changes" and that's where I got some very interesting information. In general, I told her that I don't believe that people change. Indeed, they adapt; but when it comes to trauma, let's say a severe traumatic experience which leads you at some point to a complete melt down, is the exception that someone might drastically change. She agreed. Then, I went further on asking if the reverse can occur, meaning that the person that already suffers let's say from ptsd, is starting to "adapt" again in his life; who will he be in this life, since his experience has already changed him so much, even after he "heals". Then she said that people do change during shock or really tough periods, but after the shock is over they return to their original behaviours and mannerisms.

    I find this very weird and fascinating, but also kind of destressing. For me at least, it kind of highlights the fact that we can't escape ourselves. For example, let's say that I have some core characteristics which I don't like. I am very conscious about them and I want to change them. Become a "better" person and put the effort in. With the above said, whatever I do or whichever way I try to shift my philosophy, or feelings, or pov, I can't because somethings just can't be divided into steps or percentages. For example you can't partially forgive someone. Either you truly do or you don't. You can't partially feel compassion towards someone or... you get what I mean. Some internal things just can't be divided or counted.

    I'd love to hear your opinions and experiences upon these matters. Do you believe that people change and if so, in which way and how? How much control do we have as individuals in our internal growth? Do you think that people overcome or adapt? What are your definitions upon "healing"?
     
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  2. Zerotonin

    Zerotonin Serotonin machine broke Contest Administrator Supporter

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    Interesting question. I suppose I'll answer it with an experience.

    On January 7th, 2016, my best friend of five years took his life. I'd seen warning signs, and talked to him about it extensively, but he'd assured me that he wouldn't do anything drastic and would tell me whenever he was feeling "that way." He didn't have much in the way of a support system, and had suffered a lot in his 23 years.

    After that, I was a wreck. I started drinking heavily, as well as did a few other things that I'm not proud of. My depression that had been managed effectively up until that point spiraled and I fell into the darkest abyss I've ever seen and will hopefully ever see. I was even considering following him, and got close to attempting on multiple occasions.

    But, then I had a day where I didn't think about him. It was just one day in a sea of days, but then there was two. And then three and four. Eventually, I was only thinking about him once a week. Then once every two weeks. Then once a month. Nowadays I only think about him when something triggers the thought.

    I don't believe, however, that we as a species overcome our grief, whether that be from death, trauma, what have you. Instead, I think time allows us to slowly move past it. I see grief as a brick wall. You can spend all day banging your fists against it, or you can follow the path that leads around it. There is validity, of course, in dealing with the past trauma eventually. I find, however, that this is best done once enough time has passed that it isn't as severe in your mind.
     
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  3. Necronox

    Necronox Senior Member

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    Very interesting thought that honestly, I have never really thought extensively about some of this.

    From my experience, I think that people change - they always change. Every day they are a slightly different person similar to the characters in a story, they don't just remain the same, they have their own arcs.

    Anyway, when it comes to trauma, I think that is a different story altogether. I can only speak from experience and what I have noticed and both follow the same line.

    Firstly, and this is not so much related to the topic but I might reference it later and is still quite interesting. I was lucky enough in my lifetime to talk to a World War I and II veteran when I was a child (fighting for france both times). His story is one that I could write an entire novel about, and probably should for it is an amazing one. But the traumas he has seen after world war 1 had left him "different". After the second world war, she said that he never managed to recover as he did with the first, probably due to the severity of the trauma he experienced when he was captured following the fall of france. Either way, in his case, it was not for lack of trying but simply the mind breaking due to being pushed too far. Not really relevant but thought I should say so as it is an interesting study of the mind.

    But returning moreso to the topic at hand. In my experience, traumas never go away. At least, they never did with me for my lengthy years of clinical depression. I still struggle with the after-effects of it (such as finding it difficult to feel empathy, certain emotions, etc...). You learn to live with it like you do with a bum leg or some other permanent injury. That's the way I look at it anyway. But then, in my personal case the psychologist I saw deemed it better for me to try and deal with it instead of trying to 'fix' it. Do I call that healing? No, not really. It does not even remotely come close to what I would define healing as.

    But in short to the OP's final questions. Yes, I do believe people change, especially after traumatic or critical events. Situations where people are forced to rethink certain critical aspects of their life, morals, ideals, or otherwise often fall under this category of "people changing". As to how? Usually it is because (in my opinion) of two seperate ways: 1) They want to actively improve themselves because of a perceived flaw, vice, trait, characteristc or otherwise they have or don't have. For instance, a person might think "I tell to many lies, I want to change that" and begins down that path. 2) the next method is one I just referred to: A critical event, concept or otherwise.

    I also think that people change based on their influences and context. Perhaps it is just me or a side effect of (see above), but I can easily change my own personality to fit into my setting. Similarly, I can easily alter my own characteristics if I talk to someone I aspire or want to be - effectively copying their character. However, I must admit that it is to me only a visage I wear which may or may not affect me in the long run. However, the point is that people change in situations. Have you ever been in a party and changed your own ideals to... for instance... talk to someone you never normally would? Or perhaps to change your ideals, even for one night, from an introvert into an extrovert to see if it is better and finding that it suits you better?

    Do people overcome and adapt? Sure they do. I don't think anyone doesn't adapt or overcome certain aspect of either themselves or their lifes and/or situations. But in terms of mental state, I think it can be different. People, in my opinion, try to adapt, but they may be unable to cope (like the veteran) and this could result in a break. Some come back from that break, learn and adapt from there but not all do. To some, it becomes their normal state of mind for the rest of their lives, for better or worse.

    Must say though, very interesting thoughts.
     
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  4. Some Guy

    Some Guy corn-flikted Supporter

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    I will be back to this.
     
  5. Mink

    Mink Senior Member

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    As a child, I dealt with a very traumatic situation: I came within a hairsbreadth of dying. Two weeks before I turned four I told my mom that my ankles felt funny. Then I told her I couldn't walk. At breakfast she sat me on the chair, just an hour later, and I nearly fell out. By that evening I was on life support and my prognosis was very poor. One of the doctors taking care of me left for a few weeks for leave and he was certain he would come back and find out I had died. Even my own mother believed I was going to die; at some point she had to force herself to be with me because she just knew I was going to die that night. I was also aware I was dying because I had told her that I would be alright when I died.

    I didn't die (obviously). However, both of my parents swear that the experience changed me. Prior to the paralysis I was your very typical kid. I was happy, loved life, and loved everyone. After the paralysis I was introverted, less trusting, and just generally a quiet kid. My dad said, "It was like your soul had been sucked out." He also likened to flipping a light switch. To this day I'm still not terribly bubbly or extroverted in nature. I'm perfectly happy and my parents accept me though I know my mom, wishes in some part, that I would be that happy little girl I was before I turned four.

    Because of this experience, I think people can change. It may not be so drastic and the changes may not always be permanent, but it's perfectly possible that traumatic situations can change someone (or even non-traumatic situations). I also believe that some people have the capability to willfully change themselves, though I also think some people will fool themselves into believing that and nothing actually changes. I think people are capable of a great many things while also capable of making themselves think they're capable of a great many things.

    If it's overcoming or if it's adapting, I don't know. I think it would vary from person to person and how their inner workings are made up. As for "healing", I don't have a definition. I don't think I've entirely overcome my experience as a kid. I'm still skittish about certain things and sleep paralysis is the most terrifying situation for me now, but I think I healed in the sense that I'm decently functional.
     
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  6. Some Guy

    Some Guy corn-flikted Supporter

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    I'm still coming back to this. It's just hard to face.
     
  7. Dragon Turtle

    Dragon Turtle Senior Member

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    This is really interesting, and important! I have so many swirling thoughts, hopefully I can put them into some form that makes sense.

    I think the question of "overcoming or adapting" is too black and white to take into account how humans actually work. Recovery is not linear, either-or, before-and-after. You sort of hinted at this with the remark about someone going along believing everything is fine before it blows up in their face, but I think that scenario is less of a ticking time bomb situation, and more just the fact that you can be doing really well for a long time and then have a relapse. It doesn't mean you weren't genuinely doing well during the recovered period--it just means these things can flare up again from time to time, just the way physical illnesses can lie dormant.

    Of course, that doesn't mean said flare-ups aren't extremely frustrating and can make a person feel like they failed at getting better. But this is one reason why I think it's so important for people to know that healing isn't linear. You'll be much harder on yourself if you expect it to be.

    So can people ever permanently get better? I mean, like you said, I think it does depend on how you define healing. You can't ever go back to being the person you were before a traumatic event, but that's true of life, period; things we perceive as good, bad, and everything in between. Who we are is made up of our life experiences and relationships with other people. I agree with the notion that it's rare for a person to ever fundamentally and permanently change, but there's also a sort of paradox there in that people are constantly changing and adapting. We are always in flux because our lives are always in flux.

    If someone adapts to the point where they are mostly living as a functional adult after trauma, to me that is overcoming, even if they aren't strictly the same person as they were before. Nobody can go back to being the person they were ten years ago, no matter what happened in those ten years. I suppose it'd be nice if the painful effects of trauma vanished completely, but I don't think it's fair for someone to expect that of themselves or of others. No matter how healthy you become, that's like expecting yourself to never catch a cold or sprain your ankle again.
     
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  8. Malisky

    Malisky Fuzz Overdriver Contributor

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    Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and thoughts upon this subject. It really means a lot and also feels cathartic in a sense, since there aren't many people with whom I can pick up a discussion as this in my surroundings. Most of the time (if not every time) I'm the one initiating them and I figured that people tend to wrap them up very quickly or try to lead the conversation elsewhere, since it makes them feel awkward and I'm not one to pressure.

    Zerotonin, I hope I don't sound pretentious when I say that I'm sorry you experienced this. I really don't know what to say, except that I sometimes get dreams or even used to make up stories in my mind where a close person of mine died by accident or a health issue, subconsciously and consciously maybe, to prepare myself just in case one day this happens and no, I haven't made any progress at all. It's always as devastating as the first time. For some things I guess we cannot be prepared, until they happen and then we have no other choice than to deal with them.

    I like your response because apart from being very sincere and grounded I can relate to it. I also tend to self medicate when I get overwhelmingly emotional, to the point that I can't take it and I need something to get me distracted or even help me sleep; rest a while. Problem is that when you sober up you feel even worse and then you just have to keep on self medicating, until you reach a whole different breaking point. Been in this cycle for a while, although I've never gotten physically addicted to any substance. My addictions are purely psychological I think. They come in obsessive thinking upon said substance and that's why I guess they work as placebos. Takes half of your focus away from one impossible, problematic situation and replaces it with another one, which at least is not impossible.

    I also agree that in most situations time works miracles (experienced this once too many times) although I also believe that grief does leave us at some point, depending of course on the situation. When I speak of "healing", from my experience and hopes of course, I mean being able to reflect on the past while being emotionally calm. With that I don't mean emotionless, rather than not hold any feelings of regret, guilt or any kind of past vices. Not blaming someone or yourself about an "unresolved" issue and stumble upon "what ifs". Feeling at peace with yourself upon what happened and yes, I can see how it's better to deal with an important issue when some time has passed and you become more emotionally balanced. But that is exactly where my original question originates. I'll get to it further down.

    Hello Necronox and thanks for taking interest as well. This is not irrelevant at all to the subject. Actually, it puts even more to it since a ww veteran that partook in both wars is a clear definition of an individual carrying too much upon it. I can see how war can traumatise for life anyone who experienced it up closely. I've seen a psychological documentary about war veterans and victims of war and most of them suffered from extreme psychological cases (even extreme psychiatric cases although they originally had no inclinations to them) long after the disaster has come to an end. I think that any given person that has a conscience and a healthy brain would suffer from extreme cases of ptsd, after surviving merely a battle, even more so a whole war, even more so two. I mean, if something as cruel and intense as a battlefield doesn't influence a person then what does? Although I watched the documentary though, it was very much directed upon the people that still suffered from these consequences and their recovery sessions and didn't mention at all if there were veterans or victims that got a full blown recovery.

    I'll go on first and explain what I mean when I say that people don't change. When I say change I mean become a "different" person rather than another version of yourself, or even some might call it transformation. There are transformative periods in a person's life, which usually tend to be quite dramatic for as long as they last. Of course we reflect and we mature (whatever this means to you) and feel changes within us happening throughout our lives, but they come waaaay too progressively. Too slow for us to compare them day to day and that's why at some point we stop being very active (especially when a pretty familiar situation resurfaces and it makes you feel that you've been running in circles) and turn inwards, thus reflecting before taking any kind of action or direction. Sometimes we have full control of the time we reflect, while other times it comes as unwanted as a brute force of nature, especially when we have been just brushing things off of our consciousness, thinking we're just fine and this is normal, while our subconscious might have been screaming.

    Shock changes us due to it's unnatural feel. We feel something extreme, so the change in us is extreme. It's like accelerating in one second from a 30 km/h easy ride to a 300 km/h tournament race. Your ego shatters which leaves you bare and vulnerable and this is horrifying. From my experience at least, even time moves differently. Each second in warp time feels too damn long. But after we manage to return to safety again... hello my old-time friend ego. When I say ego, I don't mean selfishness. I mean most of the core elements that make up for your identity. Although I have trouble monitoring myself due to... well, I am me so it's harder to be objective with my own self, I can see how others differ from time to time, but never have I met someone who had become a whole other person. I mean, with some of my friends with whom I grew together and perceived changes in ourselves throughout the years, we've never came to a point where we didn't recognise each other due to transformations. We were we, but older and more experienced. Not someone else that we did not recognise. Even after years apart.

    When I was younger I perceived transformation due to shock differently as well. I used to believe that since the ego got completely destroyed, this means that also the base of your personality got completely destroyed, which leaves you with what? With a clean slate after you start becoming functioning again (whenever I thought about this optimistically). You'd be a whole new person. It's the only instance in which I believed that a human might actually change. Die to live in a sense. Nowadays though, I think that I was wrong. Firstly, I recognise that trauma dealt with early on, especially when you're a child is always more forgiving. When you are a child that experienced something traumatic, with or even without therapy (although some help can go a long way), you have much more possibilities to get passed it, maybe due to childish mentality. Children have their own way of dealing with depression caused by trauma, since they express themselves more freely than grownups and get more acceptance and nurture as well. They aren't so tough upon themselves or others as grown ups are, since their morality values are still uncooked.

    Sure you can work on your flaws and change your course of action, but this is still you. The same you acting differently. Let's say you got ocd and feel the urge to be sneaky clean. In a severe case of your condition you'd end up cleaning the house all day long. If you went to a therapist (usually behavioral psychologists handle these cases I think) he'd give you some advice and maybe some medication, to deal with this problem. Step to step changes in your actions and the mental way you handle them, but it'd be very seamless, meaning a very small steps every time, because he knows that by just telling you to go from a 100 to 10 which would be something completely out of your mentality, you'd fail to progress. Small steps in a great amount of time to make an obsession go away. But does it? That's what I don't know. Maybe the ocd sufferer might get to a point that he dealt with his problem successfully and adapted to this new routine. Does he still get urges to go ballistic upon cleaning from time to time? Most probably yes, but has there been any case in which the ocd patient can reflect upon his old obsession and not carry it at all with him? Meaning, no relapses at all. Feeling completely freed from that burden. Just "feeling" completely different about it. Like a person whom he can recall having it, remembering everything about it but now just not feeling it because he knows he perceives it differently. Or like physical pain in a sense. You can recall being through hell and hurting after you broke a leg, but after you heal and don't feel the pain anymore, you can't feel the hurt since you are not hurting now. That's what I mean in a sense. Not having to deal with something anymore, since it's been already dealt with successfully 100%.

    Yes. I think that I'm a very adaptable person, due to my curiosity and philosophy in general. I've never agreed to something I'm completely opposite though, or tried to completely copy someone else. Just some traits here and there and some ideologies I want to put to test. I surely can't interact with everybody the same way and I'm quite versatile myself, so many people I hang out with are not compatible with each other, and I see why and I really don't care. I don't feel that I need complete acceptance from someone in order to feel good with myself, furthermore I sometimes also don't get myself, so why should others do? It's all in the mix that I stumble upon truths and lies, solutions and motivations. For me, keeping an open mind and being true to oneself is of great importance to the point that I might even sacrifice "safety" to it. I just need to know the truth and nothing but the truth, so the means justify the cause in this case, since nothing good comes out from living in a comfortable lie.

    @Mink and @Dragon Turtle, thank you as well and I'll get back at you tomorrow, since I've already spent too much thought upon the previous replies and feel kind of unfocused right now. @Some Guy, take your time and if you may, respond whenever you're ready. No pressure here. :)

    Btw, if anyone can hint me as to how to link a name I'd appreciate it, since I've forgotten how it's done.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2018
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  9. Zerotonin

    Zerotonin Serotonin machine broke Contest Administrator Supporter

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    @Malisky Like this!
     
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  10. Malisky

    Malisky Fuzz Overdriver Contributor

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    Thanks! :D
     
  11. Malisky

    Malisky Fuzz Overdriver Contributor

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    So hello again and let's dig in again.

    The thing is that I do believe that at first at least, we adapt in order to mentally or even physically survive a trauma. Trying to remember what to do in occasions or who we are or how other people react to things so we can copy if we can, and you were fairly young when you had this extreme case happen to you, so (stop me if I'm getting too nosy or annoying about it) now that you're older and are able to analyse better your actions and reactions and inner feelings, did you ever come across a pattern in your behaviour, which you know that is connected to your n.d.e. that you've analysed and accepted and tried to change since you find problematic? You said that you became more introverted and that is something that later on became a "stable" part of you identity (if I got this right). Have you ever wondered why? How this experience correlates with becoming more introverted? For example some external characteristics of an introverted person is to be shy, selective, observant and sets clear limits (I don't know if there's a word for this). Let's say that at some point you didn't like your shyness and wanted to get rid of it. How would it correlate to your past experience that somewhat molded you (since you were still a child) and even if you found out how and you accepted it, then what follows next? What does it mean to accept something? What if you can't accept it and that's why you want to change it?

    Just to be clear, this is just an example and nothing more.

    The problem with just adapting from my pov, is that you're not really consciously rebuilding yourself since you are still emotionally overwhelmed and confused. At some point you are going to cope and become you again, but with the difference that what you've obtained from this experience, said trauma, is going to burden you in one way or another. Maybe intensely, maybe sporadically or whatnot.

    I've had a trauma as well as a child and it influenced my personality a lot as I was growing up, for many many years, until one day it just left. Completely. For me (and I say this, because it doesn't work the same way with everybody) it was confronting them on the spot. One day I just woke up and told myself "Ok. I want this and this and this and I'm gonna get it. I'm going to turn the world upside-down, I don't care, but there's no meaning if I can't have these things", and indeed they were radical changes. They worked wonderfully and although my mentality was the same, the only thing that actually vanished completely, until today (you feel it gone) were my old fears and complexes that made my life so much heavier. I didn't blame myself or anybody else anymore. The blame and all its' forms of manifestation (shyness, guilt, loneliness and kind of snobbish) had gone pouf! Like it was in another life. It wasn't all that easy though, because I had to persevere and not slack off to old, faulty safety nets. I was actually constantly putting myself out in the open, especially when I didn't feel like it, to see what happens. So, yeah, for a fact I know that we can "better" ourselves. Each of us has their own pacing and tactic. But then again, when I overcame this problem and yes, it felt like overcoming it, I was still a teenager. Not exactly molded, but near. Apart from that, the change I manifested was indeed sudden, but I have been contemplating it for years and I mean, many many years, until I set it to action. Apart from that, what I targeted to change in me were very specific characteristics that I perceived as highly problematic. I didn't become a perfect person (near though :p) since there were other things that at the time, I didn't even understand and they somewhat slipped away, but I think that's normal. As we grow we learn and fight another day for different shit.

    Love this answer and it definitely makes sense. I'll try to remember it, whenever I get impatient. I think that the psychologist also suggested something like this. I guess it's one of my flaws. Although I'm generally a very patient and easy-going person, when a problem persists for a loooong time and I don't get resolution, I get anxious and try to solve it on spot (I can become very raw, confrontational and somewhat bitchie) and from what I've learned... sometimes it makes things worse. Not all truths must be said in a sensitive context, especially when they are one sided, since you're severely pissed-off. (Yep. My trigger is interpersonal. I've never had a problem like this before, so it's somewhat new territory for me).

    But yes. Relapses suck a lot. It's like getting drawn back to the start. Shoots and ladders. Problem with them, is not so much the self blame or pitty or whatnot. At least, for me it's the consequences that follow and that's what I find highly problematic. It's not only that you have to manage to recollect yourself, but you also have to clean up after the mess you've created that follows (in some cases), and that's why I'm so interested in this topic I guess. I mean, when can someone be sure that it's the right time to act on something, since acting before being ready, can sometimes amount to irreversible consequences. It's like the inception of an issue. Although your original plan was to unburden, you suddenly end up even more burdened.

    Thanks again! This is indeed really interesting.
     
  12. Mink

    Mink Senior Member

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    @Malisky

    I've done a fair bit of analyzing my behaviors to include how some may correlate to the trauma. My introversion I'm perfectly fine with, but I also don't include words like "shy" or "withdrawn" because they bring about a negative connotation and not all introverts are shy or withdrawn. I have no issue being a person who prefers more alone time (and needs it; people wear me out :p ). It doesn't cause me any adverse issues (at least not readily) so I see no reason to change it. For me, acceptance is being comfortable with a certain aspect and accepting it won't change (or doesn't need to change).

    The only thing I wanted to actively change in my life was my social anxiety and depression, both of which have roots in my illness as a child, the recurrences of that illness, and people's reactions to me because of physical changes caused by that illness. The depression is only somewhat manageable, but I also believe it's largely chemical in nature for myself and I've no way to access the medication that helps fully. The social anxiety, luckily, is a thing of the past due to the help of a wonder psychologist, great psychiatrist, and my own will. I might need alone time to recharge and social situations might be tiring, but I'm not particularly anxious in them anymore and I can give a damn good speech (or lecture) if I have to (or if I want to). I can accurately say I no longer suffer from social anxiety and it's not a part of my life at this present moment in time.

    Overall, as far as I'm concerned, I'm not particularly burdened by anything that occurred in my past. I don't really like to use negative words regarding it anymore because I've reached the conclusion that I can't change the past. I can, however, work on the present and the future. I know I can change because I have changed both on a conscious and subconscious level. I don't, though, think everyone has the capability of changing even small parts of themselves. I don't like to use big brushes to paint everyone with; we're all individuals with individual capabilities.

    I have no idea if any of that made sense ( :p ) or if it's even pertinent to this thread. I guess, overall, I think we all have the ability to change permanently in response to an outside situation, but I don't think we can all change ourselves on a conscious level.
     
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